Quality of Life and Symptom Control after Stent Placement or Surgical Palliation of Malignant Colorectal Obstruction

Satish Nagula, Nicole Ishill, Carla Nash, Arnold J. Markowitz, Mark A. Schattner, Larissa Temple, Martin R. Weiser, Howard T. Thaler, Ann Zauber, Hans Gerdes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: Emergent surgical management of malignant large bowel obstruction (LBO) carries a high rate of morbidity and mortality. Self-expanding metal stents have emerged as an alternative for palliation of malignant LBO. However, there are few long-term studies documenting the effect of surgical palliation or colonic stents on symptoms or quality of life (QoL). Study Design: Between 2003 and 2006, patients with unresectable-for-cure malignancies presenting with LBO were enrolled in this prospective study. Patients elected to undergo stent placement or surgical palliation. Patients completed a symptom questionnaire and a QoL instrument (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colorectal [FACT-C]) at weeks 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 24 after palliation. Symptoms were assessed using the Colon Obstruction Score, a novel instrument comprising nausea, vomiting, pain, distension, and bowel movement frequency scores. Results: Thirty patients had successful stent placement; 14 underwent surgical diversion. Colon Obstruction Scores immediately improved after both stent placement and surgery (p < 0.05 for all time points). Composite FACT-C scores progressively improved after stent placement (p = NS), with the colon symptoms subscale improving after 1 month (p < 0.05). FACT-C scores declined initially after surgery and then returned to baseline, with modest improvements seen in the Colon Symptoms subscale (p = NS). Conclusions: Both stent placement and surgical diversion provide durable improvement in symptoms from LBO, as readily assessed by the Colon Obstruction Score. QoL is difficult to assess in terminal cancer patients, but colon stent placement is associated with improved overall QoL and QoL related to gastrointestinal symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


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